Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The illusion of control

A very brave woman wrote an article in The Washington Post that came out today.  Front cover of the E section  She is brave because she has just opened herself up to a world of criticism.

Reading the article just now, my stomach began to feel queasy.  I physically reacted to the words she wrote but my mind has been slower to figure out why.

If I was an older woman, someone who struggle with infertility or singleness or just lost my baby at birth or had a miscarriage or suffered the shock of having a baby with a genetic disorder or just physically watched my son die of cancer, I would be crying right now.  And so, so angry!  (By the way, I know all these people and you know them too.)

"Our babies...on our schedule"is written by a 30 year old woman, husband is 32, who is just not ready to have children but she does want her own, healthy children some day.  So after some research, she has frozen 5 little embryos (her eggs, his sperm) for their future use.

Isn't life grand?

I wish it was so grand.  But it's not.  It is never this easy.  It is never this perfect.  We really don't have this much control.  And I'm afraid that the more tightly we think we can control ourselves (like spending about $16,000 to take out and freeze my eggs and my husband's sperm so that I can work for another 10 years and have my own healthy, happy babies...) the harder we'll fall.  Because perfect lives and ideas like this will come to an end, and then what?

Then where do we turn?

When I was newly pregnant with Eloise, Alex and I made a naive comment to my parents that we'd have a very relaxed baby because we pride ourselves in how "relaxed" we are.  (Ha! Which I'm not.  Did you read my Not Me Monday post?)  We were/are naive.  We had no idea what we were talking about.

My dad smiled and said, "You have no idea what you're going to get."

And he's absolutely right.  We didn't know if that baby would make it to birth, if she would have all her fingers and toes.  We don't know what's in store for her in this world.  Will she lead a long or short life?  Will she struggle with drugs or loneliness or self-image problems?  What will her happiest times be, and what will be her darkest hour?  She will have them.  I wish I could make every breath on this earth the best, but I can't.  Because it's a fallen world.  I can't.

I couldn't control her coming into this world and I can't control her exit.

I've been following this sweet boy from Colorado who bravely battled the cancer engulfing his body.  He impressed all the experts with his energy and enthusiasm for life.  He wasn't going to let cancer stop him from going to high school, fishing on his favorite lake, playing lacrosse, or go camping in his favorite woods.  And he fought hard.  At one point last week, he stopped breathing for about 1 minute.  His parents thought he was gone.  Then he bolted up and said, "He's not ready for me yet."  And walked outside to fish.

Then he died yesterday.  After outliving all the predictions, he breathed his last breath.  His parents didn't sign up for this.  No parent should ever have to go through so much pain.  And yet, I know if you asked them, they would do it all over again and again and again because they loved him so much.

Love trumps our worldly schedules.  Love trumps having enough money.  Love trumps the ups and downs, the disabilities, the imperfections.

And Love comes swooping in when we are at the end of our ropes.  That is when we cry "Lord, catch me.  I'm falling."

The ethics behind this author's quest of of "Preservation IVF" makes my mind swirl.  I'm all for science. Fertility treatments can be a beautiful thing.  I'm not against IVF or other scientific break-throughs.

But, I am afraid of the consequences of thinking we can control our lives and our children.  And I'm thankful that we have a God who cares for us no matter what happens.

See article here.


gwen said...

but... but... I think the illusion of control is such an easy trap to fall into ... just setting the alarm clock day after day and actually waking to it gives us an unfounded feeling of power; we begin to forget it is God who allowed us to wake to another day.

Anonymous said...

Oh man. That was beautifully written, Emily. I started to tear up. I think you're so right - life is fallen and as much as we may try, our plans will often fail us and outcomes will be different than we expected. And though it's hard and frustrating, disappointing and upsetting sometimes, I think it adds to the beauty of life in a way.

Like the love those parents had for that young boy, and the passionate life that boy led - no doubt, inspiring those around him to value their lives all the more and recall that each day is indeed a gift.

Thanks for sharing!